There is something incredibly romantic about packing your bags and hitting the road. Maybe it’s the promise of adventure, the adrenaline of being in a place where no one knows who you are, the unpredictability that anything can happening at any given moment, the burgeoning hope of limitless possibility, or the simple excitement of waking up to see the sun rise on a foreign city.
Since time immemorial, moving to a different locale has been sentimentalized by the media. Breakfast At Tiffany’s made the commitment-phobic woes of Holly Golightly seem quite appealing. Under the Tuscan Sungave us the idea that sometimes heartbreak can lead to olive picking, renovating a crumbling chateau, and meeting a devastatingly handsome stranger. Movies like Burlesque and Coyote Ugly convinced us that it’s possible for a small-town lass to make it in a big city. But uprooting your whole life and replanting it on foreign soil is far more complex than Hollywood would lead us to believe.
When I made my own cross-continental move as a young adult a few years back, I was ready for thrill and adventure. What I failed to anticipate were the days and nights of complete bewilderment; the slow, tedious process of adjustment and the confusing feelings of being transient. Contemplating a big move to a different city, coast, or country? Here are ten honest truths that will prepare you for the challenging but oh-so-worth-it life change that lies ahead.
1. It takes a lot of planning.
You may think moving is as easy as hitchhiking, but there is a lot to be done beyond just booking a one-way ticket. Where will you live? Will you need to obtain some sort of visa or permit? Do you have a job lined up, or enough savings to tide you over until you do? If something goes terribly awry, who will be your nearest emergency contact? Being practical now will help you keep your feet on the ground once your move has gotten your life in flux.
2. Prepare to be overwhelmed.
The days leading up to a big move will be some of the most hectic in your life. Getting important documents ready, going for medical checkups, putting your life away in cardboard boxes—all these can numb your emotions until the very last minute. But then it hits you like a tidal wave. Expect to be that crazy person weeping like it’s the apocalypse at boarding. Somewhere mid-Atlantic, when you’re on your second glass of wine and the third movie of the flight, doubt and incredible sadness will creep in. Did you make the right decision? Are you insane for doing what you’re doing? Did you just ruin your own life? Relax. Embrace the uncertainty. It’s all part of process.